2010-01-17: Shining Through

Starring:

Fred_V4icon.pngSydney_V4icon.png

Date: January 17, 2010

Summary:

Continued from True Colours… yeah, it's a long log.


"Shining Through"

Cassa Bella Ristorante — NYC

After a few minutes, Fred follows Sydney out into the lobby of the community centre. Looking at the receptionist, he smiles. "I'm taking the rest of the night off. One of the others can take a patient though. It's been a slow day." There's a little more conversation between them before he smiles to Sydney. "Did you come here by car or did you subway?"

"Subway. I still hate driving, and in New York I don't really need a car," Sydney answers quickly as she offers the skeptical-looking receptionist a wave. And as the pair exit the community centre she whispers towards Fred, "I don't think the receptionist likes me much. She seems suspicious that I changed my name and kept calling me Ms. Falcon?"

Fred smiles. "Well, I have my car, so I suppose we'll drive together, eh?" He nods a little. "I can understand not wanting a car in New York, though." As he leads them to where he has parked, he grins at Sydney. "That's because the last time you were here? You used the name 'Falcon' instead of Falkland." He explains. "She probably thinks it strange that you changed your name…and she's probably wondering why you changed your name."

"I could get used to being chauffeured around," Sydney continues to grin at Fred. "Ahh. So I'm something of an enigma to her, you think? I didn't mean to change my name, I just really didn't remember." She shrugs slightly before asking, "So… where are you parked?"

Fred laughs. "Don't get comfy with it." He laughs. "No doubt she's wondering what your deal is." He nods a little. "I'm just parked up here a block." He says, directing them around a corner down another street. "In fact, you can see my car!" He points down the street to a white Honda Civic.

Sydney hmmms with a tight lipped grin as she traipses towards the car. "A Honda Civic. Small. Sensible car. But white… interesting…" She smirks at him. This is the joy of spending time with another therapist. "Well, if I see the receptionist again I will win her over with my charming smile and… good humoured wit. Assuming I have good humoured wit and she'd appreciate it…"

Fred raises an eyebrow. "Yes. White. Easier to see if it's dirty or not. Are you, perhaps, reading too much into it?" He says with a grin. "Leave the psychologist behind. Right now is just about two friends having a good time." He says as he takes out his keys, unlocking the doors with a remote. "Well…she can be good humoured, in the right set of circumstances."

"I suppose there's something to be said for that. And if I'm leaving the psychologist behind so are you Doctor all I need is for you to blindside me with an insightful analysis into the nature of my character," Sydney clucks her tongue matter-of-factly. "Oh dear. So she wouldn't appreciate my wit. You know it's an acquired taste…"

Fred laughs. "That sounded more like an invitation to me, doctor. Shall I delve into the darkest corners of your psyche now, or wait until we're at the restaurant?" He asks with a grin. "She deals with enough psychologists, certainly." He says, moving around the car and getting into the drivers seat. Once Sydney is in, he says, "I'm sure she'd enjoy your humour just fine." Starting the car, he starts them off. To which restaurant? Who knows just yet.

Sydney wags her pointer finger at Fred playfully, "You wish it was an invitation! But I'm like a vault. Locked down baby," she winks, fully aware how much of an open book she is to her friend next to her. She buckles her seatbelt and shrugs, "Well I've been somewhat less good humoured lately. You must bring it out in me, Freddie. Who knew my death metal goth-friend would be the one to cheer me up?" At this she shrugs, still smiling.

Fred laughs, shaking his head. "Well, good friends laugh alike…goth death metal friends die laughing." He says, laughing still. "So, do you have a preference of restaurants, or is it my pick when it comes to the restaurant?" He makes a left turn.

"Probably. At least we'll die happy!" Sydney quips with still smiling lips. "Um. No preferences. I got to choose the type, you get to choose the where. And maybe you'll teach me something today, Dr. Fred…" She winks at him again as she leans back in her seat and turns on Fred's radio.

Fred chuckles a little bit. "Yeah, maybe so…maaaaaybe so." He says, slowing down to a stop at a red light. "So, Sydney, what brought you out to New York, all the way across the country? Seems a little far to go just to be a psychologist, especially with all the celebrities down in L.A." He says with a small smile.

"Well, I'm sure there's plenty of screwed up people in LA! In fact, I know there are, but… I came here to get away from the grandparents. Couldn't take the blame and expectations anymore, and coming out here let me… be me," Sydney offers him a shrug and a large toothy grin. "And then once I was here for school I decided to stay, especially after… well… you know…" absently she runs her hand over her re-scarved throat. "And how about you, Dr. Fred? Why New York?"

Fred nods a little, starting driving again. "Makes perfect sense to me. That's what I would've done, no doubt, in your situation." He says, seeming to drive with a purpose now. "I moved to New York to attend Columbia University. In lumine Tuo videbimus lumen." He doesn't quite like to boast about attending Ivy League, but that's the reason for his move. "And I've just stayed."

"See? I said you were smarter! I was NYU, all the way," Sydney grins. "Which still begs that question as to why you 'needed' my help. Apparently I should've been the one coming to you." At this she winks and continues to smile with that toothy grin. "You're one of the smartest people I've ever met, Fred. Of this I have no doubt."

Fred shrugs a little. "Yeah, well it's just a school. Ivy league or not, NYU is an excellent school. I almost went there myself." He says with a soft smile. "Okay. Maybe I'm smart, but I'm no genius." Okay, maybe that's a lie. Or is it? Dun dun dunnnnn! "Anyways, obviously you're smart too, if you made it through to your PhD so quickly!"

"Not just a school. Columbia is a fantastic school," Sydney quips back, refusing to let Fred minimize the value of his education. "It's the school to go to here. Or one of them, anyways." She half-smirks at him and shrugs a little, "NYU is good. And, unlike you, I am no genius. Just a hard-worker determined to make her grandparents eat humble pie. Some things in life are just like that. If we get enough determination we can get through them."

"Is it so bad that I want to make you feel more like my intellectual equal by the great disregarding of the greatness of my intellect and post-secondary education?" Fred says with a sly grin as he looks over to Sydney. He turns down another street, taking them down to Little Italy. "I know of this wonderful restaurant named Cassa Bella Ristorante. It has delicious food there."

"Heh!" Sydney scoffs. "I don't need your pity humility, Dr Fred Flint Stone." The quip is said with a smirk and mock offence. Yes, she's teasing again. "And minimizing yourself helps no one attain greatness. They can only do that on their own by trying to reach that bar. And you set it high, Freddie." She nods a little at the restaurant choice, "Sounds good to me. I've never heard of it, but it's New York. There's a lot of places I've never heard of."

Fred laughs, shaking his head at Sydney. "I didn't set the bar high. It was set for me by my humungous IQ. There's a difference." He says mischievously. "Besides, who says I wish to procure greatness? Especially for myself? I'm happy with my life, working in the community centre. If I'd set a high standard for myself, do you think I'd be working there?" He smiles. "It's wonderful, the restaurant. Delicious food. They make everything fresh!"

"Well I suppose you and I are destined for the same kind of greatness then. Nothing like community initiatives that barely pay us for what we do," Sydney shakes her head a bit at him, still smiling. "Well, then I'm game. I have a soft spot for food. I swear you're with one of the few women in New York who still eats."

Fred nods a little bit. "That is the way it would seem, yes." He smiles. "But I bet you're destined for more than just street kids having daddy troubles. What with this Agent Barker business." He says with a shrug. "Who knows what the future shall bring? Only tomorrow at that!" He laughs. "Oi, I could tell you some horror stories about some of the girls who have come in to the community centre to talk." He shakes his head. "But that's a topic for another time." He says, starting to circle the side streets of Little Italy for a parking space.

"I like street kids with daddy troubles. I can understand them. I have a harder time with the prim and proper rich and famous types… I've had a few walk through my office. We make them pay, of course. I was therapist to a politician once, too. I tell ya, the Centre gets all types." She nods a little at the notion about the horror stories, "I can only imagine. I've had some gals with eating disorders come through, but… never ended up working with them very long before they got carted into another program."
"Well, daddy troubles, and mommy troubles, I'm sure we can both understand well enough." Fred shakes his head. "Life is like a box of chocolate, you never know what gonna happen next." He says happily, slightly modifying the phrase for his own use. "Try the crack addicts who have eating disorders. Now that is fun." He says, trying not to roll his eyes. It's his job, by God if he doesn't love it. "Oh! A parking spot!" He says excitedly, quickly pulling the car into the spot. "AWESOME! It's free too!"

"Yes. You and I are all too familiar with parent and parent-like-figure issues," Sydney agrees with a sigh. She beams at his excitement about the parking spot, "Gosh Fred, you'd think you'd just won the lottery there. Is parking in New York that much of a nuisance?" Her eyebrows furrow tightly, but she continues with a toothy grin.

Fred grins widely and brightly. "In New York parking terms…I did just win the lottery! A big one at that! Two dollars per fifteen minutes my Disney collection!" He says happily, turning off the car and unbuckling himself. Once they're both out of the car, he locks up and starts leading the way to the restaurant. "So, what's it like being the therapist of a politician?"

"Well… he committed suicide," Sydney scoffs wearily. "So it's not great. Although, I'm not his therapist anymore. And I'm on leave for a couple of more weeks following my troubles catching me…" She sighs heavily as she unbuckles her seat belt and opens the car door. She smoothes her skirt after leaving the car and waits for Fred to fall into step with her.

Walking along side Sydney, Fred doesn't say anything for a few minutes. "So. What kind of things do you do for fun, here in the Big Apple?" He asks casually. "Go to movies? Plays? Musicals? Musical Movies? The library?" He smiles. "Or…you know…anything else?" He smiles. "Or has work, minus this hiatus, taken up your entire life?"

"Work has eaten up more than it ought to have," Sydney admits with a sigh. And then her lips curl into another grin, "Buuuut I like plays. Musicals. The whole nine yards. And I love the library. It's amazing here, you know! And music. And I like reading. I gave up LARP after high school. I don't remember if you were ever into that…" She shrugs slightly.

"And how about you? What do you do in your spare time?"

Fred nods a little bit. "Ah! Here we are!" He says, guiding Sydney in through the front doors of the restaurant. "I enjoy the musicals here as well. Me, I read a lot. Oh! And play video games." Ever heard a guy in a suit say he plays video games? You have now! "They help me relax, you know." He's got nothing to hide! "Aaaaaaaand, watch TV." He smiles at the Maitre'd. "Table for two, please."

"Excellent!" Sydney says as Fred guides her through the doors and into the restaurants. "I still like video games, but I don't own a system anymore. My old N64 crashed and burned a couple of years ago and hasn't recovered. And I like some TV, but I didn't really have time until recently. Just defended my thesis in December…"

"Ah, you you're just recently a Doctor." Fred says, grinning. "Well, congratulations, then. Tonight's dinner is on me!" After a couple minutes, they get let to a table and given the menu, and told the special of the night (chicken ravioli with the house's special cream sauce, garden salad, and dessert). "Pick anything you want. And I mean anything. Price doesn't matter."

"Thank you! I'm still getting used to having a bit of extra time," Sydney says as they sit at the table. "Are you suuuure? I don't want to hurt your balanced budgets or anything," she smirks broadly. "I think you just like taking a gal out and saying that. I bet all guys do…" She winks at him. At this moment she feels elated. Happy. Delighted, even.

Fred grins, ecstatic. "It does take some getting used to, granted, but you'll get used to it." He laughs and shakes his head. "I'm absolutely positive. Anything. And I'm paying. I'll hear no two shakes of a sugar packet otherwise!" He nods firmly. He's brimming with happiness. He's gotten to see an old friend again…and yes, she's cute. He won't tell himself he doesn't have a crush on her. "Well, we guys do like to be chivalrous on occasion, you know." He says, grinning.

Involuntarily, Sydney's cheeks flush for no apparent reason, "I hope so. I've been doing the counselling thing for awhile after I got my Masters. But I actually passed my PhD which I thought was a miracle." Especially considering when Sydney defended. Right before Bryce came back into her life. "Apparently I was prepared or something. I just didn't feel it." She grins at him as she sips at her water. "Fred Stone, you are too generous or you really want to display some measure of chivalry.

Fred smiles softly. "Counselling before having your PhD is a good way of practising and honing your skills. It's much better than practising in class. In classroom settings, it's controlled and you can guess with relative ease what is going to happen next. But out in the real world, it can be unpredictable, even if you think you know the given set of variables in any given circumstance." He says, thoughtfully. "What did you write your thesis about?" He asks, curious. "Can't generosity and chivalry walk hand in hand?" He says grinning widely, feeling happy at her comment.

"Irony of all irony, emotional manipulation and how it comes into play with individuals and how they alter their therapists," Sydney shrugs a little. Given her ability, it's ironic. She grins. "I picked the topic before… well, everything. And now? It's mostly just funny to me. And how about you, Dr. Stone?" She blushes a little at the notion of chivalry and generosity paired together and she nods, "Perhaps." Beat. "And what was your research on?"

Fred chuckles softly. "Emotional manipulation. A perfect topic for psychology." He says softly. "I'm sure it was quite an excellent paper. I'm sure your insights were well received." He says with a little nod. He smiles, looking down at his paper. "My thesis? I chose the effects of adoption on young children, leading to rebellious behaviour within the expected norm of societal ambiguity."

"A topic near and dear to your heart," Sydney says softly. Her cheeks flush slightly again, before she finally asks, "Are you doing alright? I know that life wasn't… well… you know…" she shrugs a little. "It's hard to talk about such things. You seem to be doing well. You're very resilient, Freddie."

Fred smiles quietly and looks down at his menu. For a few moments he's silent before looking up at Sydney and nodding. "Yeah…yeah. I'm doing fine. Life wasn't really…for either of us. You know?" He shakes his head. "I'm fine, though. No use crying over spilt milk." He says quietly, when the waitress arrives, asking if they're ready to order. "Umm…" He looks to Sydney. "Are you ready?"

"I am," Sydney chimes as she glances at Fred and then the waitress. "I'll just have the special. Thanks." Her cheeks flush. "I really like chicken ravioli." She shakes her head with a half-uncomfortable giggle.

Fred looks down at his menu for a second before looking back up at the waitress. "I'll have the special too, thanks." He says, handing his menu to the waitress. "And…a bottle of the house white?" He asks, looking over to Sydney for confirmation of approval. They are in an Italian restaurant after all.

Sydney gives her nod of approval at the wine. "Yes. That sounds good." Although, Sydney doesn't hold her liquor very well. Should be interesting. The waitress disappears for a few moments to retrieve the wine. "Thank you. I'm sooo excited. I haven't had good Italian in ages. And I live in New York! I mean, there's everything here, yet I find myself eating Chinese take out more than anything… or I cook. I can still cook."

Fred smiles happily. "Well, it's been really long since I've seen you! And you've only just gotten your PhD! We have to celebrate somehow, don't we?" He says with a wide grin. "It's not proper that you haven't have any good Italian lately. That's just not right!" He says, grinning. "Well, tonight that shall be rectified!" He says with a firm nod.

The waitress returns with the bottle of wine and pours both of her patrons a glass before leaving the bottle on the table and disappearing. "So… did you think you'd see me again after the last time?" the question is asked as Sydney lifts and peers at her glass of wine before she sips at it.
Fred tilts his head. "Do you mean…after the last time you came to my office or the last time we saw each other in California?" He asks, curiously, taking a sip from his own wine glass.

"Both, I guess. I meant more the office one, but both." Sydney sips her glass again before asking, "Honestly, I hadn't thought I'd see anyone from that crowd again. I haven't been back in ages — and have no plans to return any time soon. It's so much easier to just leave it alone." Besides, they don't want to see her and she doesn't want to see them.

Fred takes another long sip of wine. "Well, after the first office meeting…I had a feeling I'd see you again. Call it a hunch." An educated hunch that really isn't a hunch but really him knowing that he'd see her through his government work. "I was back last year…but I didn't really get a chance to see anyone from the old crowd. Wasn't there to hang out, really." He says, smiling.

"Well, I guess you had that benefit of remembering we talked last time," Sydney shrugs a little, but she stares at him calculatingly. "I realize you basically got a do-over with us seeing each other again. You could've been a total jerk, and I wouldn't even remember." Not that she thinks he is. It's an observation more than anything. "What did you do while you were back in California…?"

Fred chuckles softly. "I could have been a total jerk, but I wasn't. I like you too much to have done that!" He says, grinning as their food arrives. He nods to the waitress as she gives the the salad and ravioli. "Thank you." He says, smiling at her before turning his attention back to Sydney. "I was back in California…for my parents…" heard 'adoptive parents', "funerals. They died within days of each other." He says softly, starting to eat his salad.

"Thank you," Sydney says to the waitress with a smile before she disappears. But the smile fades rather quickly with the news. This causes her to reach across the table to squeeze Fred's non-salad-eating hand. "Aw Fred. I'm so sorry. That's really rough. And still really fresh. I'm sorry."

Fred smiles a little bit, sadly. "Aww, it…it happens, you know." He looks up, his heart skipping a beat as Sydney's hand squeezes his. He gives her a little smile. "Such is life, you know? And…I know they would not have been happy to live with one dead and the other alive. My pops would've been miserable. So it's…kinda good in a way." He says quietly. "The past is the past, though, right? We're in a new day!"

"I know. But that doesn't make it easier," Sydney squeezes his hand a moment longer before she releases it. Her cheeks flush again as she casts her gaze down to her food. She's connecting with someone for once. It feels… almost foreign. It's been so long since she's been her truly smiling self. "I." Her attraction is palpable and though try as she might to suppress her own feelings, she fails and directs her attention to her salad. "I'm amazed how optimistic you're managing to stay about it," she says quietly.

Fred smiles, gazing at Sydney with soft eyes. "It may not, but…wherever they are, I'm sure they're happy." He says quietly. He smiles wider at Sydney, he says, "No use trying to be sad, right? Life is what we make of it. Sure, there are sad times, but there are plenty of good times as well!" His words and part of his appearance might be happy, but on the inside…not so much. He's a sad puppy.

The blonde smiles gently as she reaches out for his hand again. "You're right in a way, life is what we make it, but false happiness negates what we're actually feeling." Her eyes narrow as her lips curl slightly downward into a frown. "You don't have to pretend for me, Fred. I'm not some girl you met a week ago, I've known you for years…" And even without her ability, Sydney would've drawn the conclusion she's come to. She studies him silently as she gives his hand another squeeze.

Fred shakes his head, trying to put on his brightest smile. "I'm not pretending, Syd. Honestly. I'm fine." He takes a bite of his food once more. "Honestly. I've had my grieving period and I've moved on with my life. I working and I love my work. I love helping people. It's what I do best." Is said in a cheerful, happy-go-lucky voice. He looks at her for a moment, as if to convey that he's really fine.

Returning her hand to her side of the table, Sydney nods a little. "But grief's funny like that. It'll hit us when we least expect it. Even with things that we honestly don't want to hold on to anymore." That's the way it was with Bryce. She dumped him. But then she found times when she actually missed him. Not that she wanted him back, it was just hard not having him there. She returns to her food quietly, unsure of how to blaze past this topic when it's all she can think about now.

Fred, the sad puppy and possibly feeling like an orphan now…quite the fellow. But, he puts on a good act, as any excellent psychologist could. "Grief can be pretty funny, I'll say that. Cropping up and all." He says, smiling. "But hey. Ce la vie, right?" He says cheerfully. "So, are you reading any good books right now?" He asks, trying to move past the subject. "I'm reading an excellent mystery."

Sydney doesn't really believe him. She knows him better and she has access to his emotions. Anyone else would probably buy the act, but she doesn't. "I… " she begins haphazardly. "Well if you ever want to talk about it…" the words are said gently, but her facial expression is somewhat more revealing. She's concerned, and skeptical. But she lets him move on, never pressuring anyone to talk about something they don't want to, "I just finished The Lovely Bones alone with the rest of the US to tackle it before the movie comes out and all." She takes a deep breath, forces a strained smile and asks, "Excellent? How so?"

Fred shakes his head, smiling. "Thank you, Syd. I appreciate the offer. I really do." He says softly and sincere. But he smiles widely again. "Ah, The Lovely Bones. Yes, I've heard of that! It sounds like an interesting story and concept." He says, happily. "Oh, it's thrilling. So…I guess it's really a thriller-mystery. It's all about this spy who has to find everyone who saw this 'thing' fall out of the sky during a tour group in Swizterland. Only problem? They don't know who the people were, how many there were, or which company it was with."

"Wow, that sounds interesting. Sounds like a captivating story… I really did like the Lovely Bones. It's kind of strange, but interesting at the same time and it's won awards and whatnot," Sydney sips at her wine again before refilling her glass. Her cheeks are now flushing from the wine rather than embarrassment and Syd doesn't drink often, so, as usual, the glass goes straight to her head… and her emotions. She's not completely trashed, but she's certainly (mildly) tipsy. Oddly, several tables around the pair exhibit similar symptoms of mild loopiness.

"Soooooo," she begins, "What about other things in your life? Like people?" Her lips are getting somewhat looser.

Fred nods a little. "Very captivating story." He says, finishing his glass of wine as well, refilling. "I've certainly read good things about The Lovely Bones. I'll have to read it as soon as I'm done this book." He says with a nod. As he begins to feel tipsy, he frowns. He's not use to feeling this way. Not off wine and not so quickly. "Are…you feeling alright, Syd?" He asks, ignoring the other questions for now.

"Yeah, I feel great," Sydney waves her hand slightly as if this somehow is indicative of emotion. In her own mind, at this moment, it is. "Whyyyy?" She grins broadly at him, and several other tables around the pair contain very happy looking patrons. "Just doin' my thing." Several seconds pass before she squeaks, "You avoided the question." She shakes her head to clear it (futiley) before she persists, "You need a support network, Freddddiiiiie."

"It's just…every in here seems to be getting a little too happy, much like you, and you're seeming a little flushed." Yay for Fred's observations of the human condition! "Are ya maybe…spreading a little bit of that wine charm to everyone else?" He asks. As happy as he feels, he's still worried about his friend. If she can't handle her alcohol…well, maybe he should limit his own intake in order to be sure he can drive her home. He smiles. "I was just more concerned about you, is all." He says happily, in answer to why he avoided the question. "I've got a few friends. Mostly through work. They're great people." For the most part.

"Oh I'm fiiine," the word is long and drawn out in Sydney still-semi-euphoric state before she glances around the room and places her wine glass down. She whispers, "Maybe I shouldn't drink anymore?" at this she raises her eyebrows and nods at him. "I think you might be right about the wine charm. It's not that bad, is it?" She shrugs, "I don't drink very often. And that's great about your friends. I'm glad you're connected with people." She grins broadly, "I have a few really good friends. And like my boss is pretty much amazing — I'm staying with her these days… oh and now you have me again! Or I have you… or both, I guess." She grins happily at this. "You bring out my lighter parts, I think."

Fred chuckles softly and shakes his head. "No. It's quite a pleasant feeling. But…I'll be sure you get home safe and sound." He says happily, deciding to take a sip of his wine again. A glass or two never seriously hurt anyone, right? "Well, it's really important to be connected with people, isn't? Without connection, what are we?" He smiles. "What's your bosses name?" He asks out of curiosity. "We do have each other now too. Friends back together again!" He says happily. "Don't your other friends bring out your lighter side?"

"Excellllent! Good to be in the presence of a gentleman friend-type!" Sydney giggles lightly at her own comment although she's not altogether sure why she's giggling, but she giggles anyways. "Amy Masterson. She's amazing! She's the director, executive of Hope Hearth!! She's the best boss and an amazing friend! And I secretly want to emulate her life! She's like a big sister or something…" She nods sagely at this comment and then shrugs about her other friends, "Sometimes. It's been pretty impossible lately. I think I've been more introspec — intro — interiorally reflective than usual."

Finishing off his wine and dinner, Fred says, "Well, she must be amazing if she's in charge of Hope Hearth!" He says softly. He tilts his head. "You've been…introspective?" He asks, for clarification, nodding. "Hey…they said that there was dessert a part of this, do you want the dessert to go? That way you can enjoy it when you're at home." He says softly.

"Yesssss. That's the word! That's why we're friends! Introspective! Does that ever happen to you when you just sit there and can't think of the right word no matter how hard you try you keep thinking and talking and thinking" it's at this point that Sydney clamps her mouth shut, realizing how much she's talking. "I'm sorry. I'm talking a lot. It's the wine. Blame the alcohol." She nods at this again and says, "Yes. We can get dessert to go. That would be good."

Fred smiles and nods. "I know exactly what you're talking about." He says to his newly rediscovered friend. "I hate to rush like this, I do. But the hour of day is waning on, and I do have some files that I need to look over before going into work tomorrow." He says, flagging down the waitress. "Hi. Can I get our desserts to go and…" He pulls out his wallet, handing her a credit card. "Charge the bill to this. Thank you." He smiles to his friend across the table from him. "And now I am gonna give you a ride home as well. Only proper."

Sydney wrinkles her nose, "Proper? Hmmmm. You have grown up then! All proper now. And don't worry about it, I should probably get going anyways, Amy might worry." The blonde therapist has been out all day and didn't leave a note or anything although she hadn't anticipated being out this long. "Thanks for that." She beams at him.

Fred smiles softly. "Well, yes. I have grown up a little. Not that some of my co-workers notice." He says with a little wink. "You're welcome, friend Sydney." He smiles as the waitress returns with their desserts in respective bags, one of each of then, and the credit card receipts to sign. Once that is all done and he's put away his credit card he says, "Well, shall we away into the night, fairest Sydney?" He grins, standing and offering his hand to her. "Just let me know where I'm going to get you home."

Accepting the hand graciously, the tipsy therapist stands to her feet and grins at him broadly. "We shall!" She beams at Fred as the pair stroll out to the car. Quickly she rattles off Amy's address, "I have a townhouse that I don't live in because of the whole roommate thing. One of these days maybe I'll move back… we'll see. Living with Amy is much more… relieving."

Fred smiles and nods. "I can understand that. Having a roommate can be comforting. Knowing that there will be someone there." He says, making sure that Sydney is securely strapped in before driving the car toward the indicated address.

And after the pair arrive, Sydney unbuckles her seatbelt, gives Fred a little wave and (unlocks the door then) walks into the building. After entering the building, she kicks off her high heels (and carries them with her) — still beaming — and pads up to the elevator. She pushes the button and then reaches for her cellphone. She looks through her address list and chooses a number she’d programmed only a week earlier. Now beaming, she feels elated. This is the right decision; it has to be. “Hello?… Agent Barker?? This is Sydney Falkland calling. Listen, I think I remembered something that might be useful to you…”

TO BE CONTINUED

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